The Development of Prospective Secondary Biology Teachers PCK

Feb. 01, 2013

Source: Journal of Science Teacher Education, Vol. 24, Issue 1, February 2013, p. 133-155.
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

The purpose of this study is to describe and understand prospective science teachers’ knowledge development.

Research Questions
The research questions that guided this study are:
(1) What are prospective teachers’ science teaching orientations, knowledge of students’ understandings of science, and knowledge of instructional sequencing, throughout a teacher certification program?; and
(2) In what ways do prospective secondary teachers’ science teaching orientations, knowledge of students’ understandings of science, and knowledge of sequencing of science instruction interact over time?

Research Design
This is a longitudinal, multiple case study of four prospective biology teachers’ PCK development during a post-baccalaureate teacher education program, with each teacher representing a single case of PCK development.
Data sources included a lesson planning task and two interview-observation cycles during the participants’ year-long internship.


The authors learned that as prospective teachers gained more knowledge and experience, the interaction that develops between teachers’ knowledge of learners and their knowledge of instructional sequences becomes more integrated.

In addition, the findings demonstrate a strong relationship exists between science teaching orientations and knowledge of learners and instructional sequences.
For these prospective teachers, developing a more sophisticated science teaching orientation was also a prerequisite to developing knowledge of learners and instructional sequences.
The orientations that the prospective secondary science teachers brought to teacher preparation were robust and resistant to change and played a pivotal role in the development of prospective secondary science teachers PCK.
Furthermore, the prospective teachers became more aware of student learning difficulties, and therefore, developed more elaborated knowledge of the requirements of learning.
They consistently sequenced instruction in ways that gave priority to transmitting information to students.

Implications and Conclusions

The findings of this study indicate that teacher educators must elicit and challenge prospective teachers’ science teaching orientations.
As a result of their K-16 science learning and other background experiences, the prospective teachers in this study entered the teacher education program with strongly held views of teaching as telling.
Thus, teacher educators need to elicit prospective teachers’ science teaching orientations at the beginning of a teacher preparation program.

This study also presents implications for studying teacher knowledge.
More elaborate PCK models are needed to that account for the integration of knowledge components in order to better understand how teachers learn to teach science.
In conclusion, research on the nature of PCK development has the potential to inform the design of teacher preparation programs.
The prospective teachers’ science teaching orientations significantly shaped how they made sense of experiences in methods courses and field experiences.
While science teaching orientations could be a powerful support for future learning, it can also act as a barrier to knowledge development.

Updated: Jul. 20, 2014


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